- This documentary travels the world from a village in Central Africa to the urban slums of South America to the Orkney Islands and on and on, connecting all of humanity through a passion that has been an important of my own life and certainly the early days of my blog.
- It also takes us on a journey through time all the way back to the origins of our species. The discovery of rubber by Europeans is a pivotal moment in the story.
- I will be both shocked and delighted if any of you have seen this film or even heard of it. If you know something of what my family has been up to this past month, you might have a shot at guessing. I can't wait to discuss it further with everyone and hope I can inspire a few to seek it out.
Title: Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World to Play
Director: Jerome Thelia
Original Release: 2015
My Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Bounce explains everything. The documentary's subtitle, though, is a bit misleading. The film's thesis is that we play by natural instinct as do many intelligent animal species. The ball didn't teach us to play but its spherical shape and its not entirely predictable responses to our manipulations inspire our curiosity. Through expert interviews, animal observations, historical meanderings and sports footage from all over the world, Bounce explores the evolutionary necessity of play as well as the psychological reasons for enjoying the athletic exploits of others.
The movie covers a lot of ground over the course of 76 minutes but a couple of segments were particularly noteworthy. One was mentioned in my clues last week: the discovery of rubber by the Spanish Conquistadors. Previously, the European version of a ball was along the lines of an inflated sheep's bladder. It didn't bounce anywhere near as impressively as the Aztec equivalent. Rubber changed everything. The historical implications of the discovery go far beyond sports, of course, but many of the games we know today might never have been invented without it.
Perhaps most memorable of all is the Scottish Ba' game in the Orkney Islands, essentially an all-town mob football game played on the village streets twice a year. The winning team awards the ball to the day's hero and those who have won claim it as a possession prized above their own children. Apparently, such games have a long history in Europe though they only survive in remote corners.
We saw the movie during our recent trip to the Green Mountain Film Festival in Montpelier. While it is unlikely to turn up at your local multiplex, it is available to watch via iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo and Google Play. I highly recommend it to all, even those who don't share my mania for sports.
Next meeting is Friday, May 13th. I'll post May's blog list tomorrow. For May, pick another society member's choice from our ever increasing library to review. Today, please visit my fellow cinephiles, listed below: